The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its landmark climate report last week, and a dire report it was. For Heather Hansman, the "biggest takeaway" from that report is that time has run out and we can no longer be complacent—"anything we can do now ... will make the future less brutal." One big thing we can do, she writes in her latest opinion piece for Outside: Stop building campfires. "We have to give up things we like now to avoid worse losses later," Hansman writes. "And if we don't, the sacrifices will continue to mount." Hansman notes that despite campfire bans in such states as Washington, people continue to light them (as well as cigarettes and fireworks), sparking out-of-control wildfires that wreak havoc on the landscape. Plus, even before groups set up camp and start stacking wood for their blaze, we've primed the land to burn by creating "hotter, drier, more dangerous conditions" through fossil fuel use and "the ways we use and manage land."
Hansman relays her own story of a recent camping trip in Washington's Yakima River Canyon in which she and her group, which didn't build a campfire, could smell another group's fire despite a ban in place. They learned later that a fire likely started by a spark from someone's car caused a blaze that torched 5,000 acres in four hours. "I am angry and frustrated and grieving," Hansman writes. "I feel ineffective and hamstrung. Pissed at the government, at the gas companies, at the bros throwing beanbags by a fire three campsites over." The way to alleviate those feelings, she notes, is to take action, and if that means ditching campfires, so be it. "I love sitting around a campfire, telling stories and poking flames, but going without a fire isn't such a huge sacrifice," she writes. "We get to choose if we want to sit by a campfire now or be able to sit by smoke-free rivers in future summers. The window of action is shrinking fast." Read more of her piece here. (Read more fires stories.)